John the Baptist Prepares the Way

Matthew 3:1-12

In our passage today we are introduced to John the Baptist. This isn’t the first reference to John in the Scriptures. As Matthew shares in 3:3, Isaiah proclaimed John would come. Matthew affirms the prophecy with his own introduction of John by introducing him not only as one living in the Judean wilderness but as one proclaiming the message of Jesus. Matthew also paints a picture of John for us by describing his preaching style, the way he dressed, what he ate, and how the people were attracted to him, but even better, how they responded to his message by repentance and turning to God.

People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

Matthew 3:5-6

However, the words that really captured my attention today are found in verses 8 and 9, where John addresses the Pharisees and Sadducees who had come to “watch” the baptism. He calls them out – demanding them to prove with their lives that they have repented and turned to God. He warns them not to think they are safe simply because they are descendants of Abraham.

Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. 

Matthew 3:8-8

This is the true message of the Gospel and of the Savior John was preaching, and we would do well to heed the warning. Our salvation isn’t based on whether or not our parents are Christians or if we go to church … Nor does it matter if we attended a Christian school or can recite Bible verses from Genesis to Revelation, and have read through the Bible every year of our life. It isn’t based on our good deeds, bad deeds, or our knowledge of who God is. Salvation is based on faith alone in Christ alone. God’s Word says that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus and not by our own efforts or works (Ephesians 2:8-9). No matter how hard or long we try we will never be good enough to earn salvation. Only God, by His grace and His mercy through Christ, can give us our salvation. It is a gift freely given to all who place their faith in Christ Jesus, the only “begotten”, sinless Son of God who died in our place – so that we could become the sons and daughters of God.

May we be careful not to place our hope and faith in what we know, or do, or for that matter what we don’t do – but rather in Jesus alone, the one who came, not to condemn the world but in order to save the world.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:17
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